IOC President Thomas Bach opened the GSSE ©IOC

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach officially opened the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) at the San Marino Stadium today.

The 17th edition of the Games began with a two-hour Opening Ceremony directed by Vittorio Picconi.

A total of 800 people participated in the Ceremony, 600 of them children, with music, dance and juggling among the festivities.

The nine competing nations were paraded in front of the 6,000 spectators in the venue.

More than 900 athletes due to compete in the event due to close on Saturday (June 3).

Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro and San Marino will all be taking part.

The nations have to be members of the European Olympic Committees and must have a population of less than a million.

Because of the limited populations of the states, competitors do not have to be citizens of the countries they represent but must have lived there for at least three years.

The Ceremony drew to a close with the lighting of the Games' cauldron, while water and then fireworks were fired into the night sky.

Bach met with members of the competing National Olympic Committees and their Ministers of Sport prior to the Ceremony.

San Marino, the small republic within Italy, then presented Bach with the Commendatore dell’Ordine di Sant’Agata.

The state honour was presented by Captain Regents Mimma Zavoli and Vanessa D’Ambrosio.

Bach is expected to attend several sporting events tomorrow as action gets underway.

It is the third time San Marino has hosted the multi-sports event, with the country staging the inaugural edition in 1985.

Former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch visited those Games and returned for their second hosting by San Marino in 2001, when he was accompanied by the man who succeeded him, Belgium's Jacques Rogge.

Medals are scheduled be awarded tomorrow in athletics, road cycling and swimming.